How are the funds used?
IOLTA is a primary source of funding for civil legal aid in California. Civil legal aid provides free legal services to those who would not otherwise be able to afford them. On average low-income Californians report experiencing twice as many civil legal problems in a year as nonindigent Californians. Approximately 20 percent of Californians live in poverty and rely on these services for their civil legal needs.
Currently, almost 100 organizations receive IOLTA grants from the State Bar. In 2018 the State Bar distributed over $51 million to support civil legal aid. (This includes other funds besides IOLTA, such as the Equal Access Fund and the Justice Gap Fund.) Top areas where these organizations provided legal assistance included housing, immigration, and family law/domestic violence cases. In 2017, almost 5,000 families were able to stay in their homes, over $16 million in unpaid wages were recovered, and over 2,000 individuals were able to obtain or maintain their health insurance as a result of civil legal aid.
Sources: State Bar of California, The California Justice Gap Study: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Californians (2019); State Bar of California, Making a Difference: California Legal Aid Impact Report (January 2019), pp. 2, 4, 8, 10.